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Guest Lee Blick

40 Stop, 3 Manual Organ

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I mean Mr Bicknell took care of what he said, as an expert involved

in the organ world.

 

In which case, surely this means that his statement was correct? I do not wish to prolong the point, but I was astounded at the recording which you posted of the 541 Prelude - regardless of whether this may or may not be historically accurate (and we can never know what stops Bach used when he was playing), I simply could not stand playing this piece with that registration. I can only say that I found the sound to be alien to my perception of the spirit of the music.

 

How sad you cannot read in german ! the book I linked to is crammed

with data about the organs Bach played, up to specifications by himself,

and receptions reports. We have much documentation, but it is in german,

and as nobody will ever pay me to translate such uninteresting things, it

will stay in german...

The evidences about Bach organs are rather blatant, but as they are disturbing,

many people prefer look to something else...

 

 

Pierre

 

Then I shall order it, and pay a colleague to teach me some translations of parts which look to be relevant - the specifications I can manage!

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When I was young, it was customary to believe "Poor Bach had not the good (read: northern) organs he deserved, and had to content himself

with bad ones"......

That may possibly be how the neo-Baroque read it, but it misrepesents the facts. It is a fact - because his son tells us so - that Bach regretted that he never had a really fine organ to play regularly.

 

As for specifications, as far as I am aware the only example that we can be certain Bach drew up is the one for the Mülhausen rebuild.

 

I know nothing of Altenburg, but Bicknell was right about Naumburg. Bach may have drawn up the specification, but there is no direct evidence of this; it is mere speculation. Also the organ has been extensively restored. More than one person has warned us not to assume that what we hear today is what Bach heard. This doesn't stop it being one of the very finest organs in the world though.

 

I agree wholeheartedly with pcnd about the registration used ion that clip of BWV 541. I do my best to be broad-minded, but this was just a horrible sound.

 

I thought the Trost Bach splendid, however.

 

I cannot agree that Baroque organs are "fat". "Rich", yes. Early 20th-cent. British organs are fat; I am sure you will agree, Pierre, that they do not sound remotely like German Baroque ones!

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How necessary is a 32ft pedal reed in this context is it felt generally? In an organ of this size would it be regarded as essential for completeness? I wonder if the utility of this pedal organ would be increased by rather having additional stops of 16ft of varying colour. I'm no expert, just wondering.

 

 

I tend to agree with you. An organ needs some METAL 16 ft pedal stops to give the pedal line definition especially where there is a large accoustic.

I am also a believer in having a decent 32 ft FLUE, metal, which can underpin the whole organ, as at Blenheim Palace.

Also an ordinary 32 ft FLUE can help considerably, especially when the Great organ is weak, in the middle, as at Ludlow, for example.

 

Michael Sullivan.

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How do people react to the Trost organ at Grossengottern? This is a village church organ, completed in 1717, with a fairly normal Hauptwerk:

 

16.8.8.8.4.4.3.3.2.1-rank sesquialtera.IV.Trumpet.

 

The 2 stops at 2 2/3 pitches - a quint and Nassat - are perhaps the only oddity on paper. The mixture is a little bit different:

 

Low C: 1, 4/5, 2/3, 1/2 (22.24.26.29)

Ten c: 2, 1 3/5, 1 1/3, 1 (15.17.19.22)

Mid c: 4, 3 1/5, 2 2/3, 2 (8.10.12.15)

 

The Brustwerk mixture gives little respite:

 

Low C: 1, 4/5, 2/3 (22.24.26)

Ten c: 2, 1 3/5, 1 1/3 (15.17.19)

Mid c: 4. 2 2/3, 1 3/5 (8.12.17)

 

How should they be used?

 

(Pierre - thank you for the clips of Poitiers - what an organ!)

 

(Pcnd - I can't find your clip of Jos van der Kooy playing BWV541 on the 1980s Flentrop at Westerkerk - a fine organ, btw. Can you re-post it?)

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Quint (Principal, like a Twelfth) and Nassat (Flute) on the same manual are frequent

on these organs. The first goes in the Principal chorus, like the Twelfth, the second

is a Mutation stop like the french Nasard.

 

You will find many examples in "Die Orgeln J.S. Bachs".

 

How to register Bach's Preludes & fugues with such Mixtures ? Exactly like in

the Waltershausen video above !

You do not need quint Mixtures for Bach.....Save in Silbermanns and

Hildebrandts (and of course the few northern organs he encountered), Bach

probably had none.

 

Pierre

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(Pcnd - I can't find your clip of Jos van der Kooy playing BWV541 on the 1980s Flentrop at Westerkerk - a fine organ, btw. Can you re-post it?)

 

Ah - I did not post it - this would break copyright law! (Perhaps it is different in Belgium....!!)

 

I shall try to think of some way of getting you to hear it!

 

:o

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... You do not need quint Mixtures for Bach.....Save in Silbermanns and

Hildebrandts (and of course the few northern organs he encountered), Bach

probably had none.

 

Pierre

 

Pierre - this is a subjective opinion. I can quite easily state the opposite. However, from a purely musical point, my view is that tierce mixtures (in the larger works, such as the preludes, fantasias, toccatas and fugues) obscure the clarity and purity of the writing - and therefore the sound. Personally, I find them wearisome after a short time - yet the choruses on the JVDK recording I could listen to around the clock.

 

I have found another instrument, details of which I shall post when I return from teaching later this evening....

 

You are still offering me nothing more than conjecture, Pierre - 'probably' is, at present, un-substantiated with hard, irrefutable evidence!

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Pierre - this is a subjective opinion. I can quite easily state the opposite. However, from a purely musical point, my view is that tierce mixtures (in the larger works, such as the preludes, fantasias, toccatas and fugues) obscure the clarity and purity of the writing - and therefore the sound. Personally, I find them wearisome after a short time - yet the choruses on the JVDK recording I could listen to around the clock.

 

I have found another instrument, details of which I shall post when I return from teaching later this evening....

 

You are still offering me nothing more than conjecture, Pierre - 'probably' is, at present, un-substantiated with hard, irrefutable evidence!

 

I apologize it is no opinions, but historical stuff...

Have that book, read the specifications on Organographia, and we shall come back thereupon afterwards.

 

Besides the data, I can say this: when I first heard Angermünde (the horrible sound)

I tought: "Here are the colors of the Cantatas".

 

Clarity, etc, are 20 th century affairs. The baroque were about tone, and Bach after rare

stops, Gambas, solo reeds and Tierces.

 

Pierre

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Clarity, etc, are 20 th century affairs. The baroque were about tone, and Bach after rare stops, Gambas, solo reeds and Tierces.

The quest for clarity was not at all unreasonable. German mid-eighteenth-century organs are very clear-toned. At Naumburg even two or three 8' stops drawn together do not sound thick in the way a Hele octopod (for example) does.

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I apologize it is no opinions, but historical stuff...

Pierre

 

Pierre - I must take issue with this - your original statement was 'you do not need quint Mixtures for Bach.' There is still (as Stephen Bicknell stated) no irrefutable proof of exactly how contemporary organs sounded in Bach's time - nothing is proven totally untouched. You wrote '...Bach probably had none [quint mixtures].' This is not 'historical stuff' - merely conjecture. There is very little available evidence of exactly how compound stops were constituted in the instruments with which Bach was associated.

 

I shall do my best to obtain a copy of this book and to persuade a colleague to help me with the translation of at least some of the passages. However, I do have access to a fair amount of resource material in English - some by Stephen Bicknell, some by Dr. Peter Williams (who, I believe, is also highly regarded as an authority on the music of JSB - and of the history of the European organ) and some by a number of other writers.

 

I would agree that Bach was also interested in tone-colour, but I remain convinced that he was, in addition, interested in clarity - this is what some of his cantatas, the B-minor Mass, the passions according to St. John and St. Matthew (and a host of other works) tell me.

 

As a practising organist of rather more than twenty years' experience, I would also say that clarity and texture go hand-in-hand. Whilst I make no claim to be either a great exponent of the keyboard works of Bach or to have the depth of historical knowledge of Dr. Williams (for example), nevertheless, I have spent decades studying, being taught and performing a number of these pieces; therefore I feel that I can claim to have a reasonable insight into some styles of performance practice. I further believe that it is dangerous to allow the way one performs the organ music of JSB either to be informed largely by purely historical facts (or conjecture) or, for that matter, largely by 'feeling' or an emotional response to the music.*

 

One of the things which my studies lead me to believe fervently, is that Bach wasted very little in his works. That is to say that there is no superfluity of material, no inflated textures or musical rhetoric. As Vox stated above, the type of sound produced on the first sound-file (in which a reed is used throughout the 541 Prelude), appears to be alien to the spirit of the piece. It had the effect of robbing the piece of its innate vitailty and sheer energy, becoming, for me, little better than something played on a fairground organ - I do not use this description lightly, or flippantly in a derogatory way; I hold this opinion quite genuinely.

 

 

 

* There is a further danger, present even in supposedly well-documented historical 'facts': I write of the two 'schools' of performance with regard to the organ works of César Franck. Both have been transmitted form pupil to pupil, through the generations which have passed since the death of Franck. Each will swear that their way is the way in which the Maitre wished his works to be performed; yet there are wide discrepancies, not merely in tempi, but in such matters as the observance of notes communes, rhythm, the use of rubati and even the fine details of some registrations. All these facets have a clearly-discernable impact on the performance. Even with the wealth of documentation and anecdotal 'evidence' available, most scholars admit that it is impossible to choose between the two schools of thought.

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Another instrument - somewhat closer to the location of at least one of Bach's posts (312.66 miles from Weimar):

Freiburg Cathedral (Gottfried Silbermann, 1710-14)

 

HAUPTWERK

 

Mixtur IV

 

C 15-19-22-26

c 12-15-19-22

c' 8-12-15-19

c'' 5-8-12-15

 

Zimbel III

 

C 19-22-26

c 15-19-22

c' 12-15-19

c'' 8-12-15

 

OBERWERK

 

Mixtur III

 

C 19-22-26

c 15-19-22

c' 12-15-19

c'' 8-12-15

 

Zimbel II

 

C 22-26

c 19-22

c' 15-19

c'' 12-15

 

BRUSTWERK

 

Mixtur III

 

C 22-26-29

c 15-19-22

c' 12-15-19

c'' 8-12-15

 

PEDAL

 

Mixtur VI

 

12-15-19-22-26-29 (throughout)

 

Clearly, this is still not St. Blasius, Mülhausen. However, it is much closer to Weimar than Steinkirchen. It is also contemporaneous with JS Bach. One of the examiners of this instrument was Kuhnau, who was Bach's predecessor at the Thomaskirche, Leipzig, and who had originally recommended Silbermann.

 

I must confess that I am puzzled - whilst I have still not encountered details of mixture schemes for the actual instruments with which Bach was associated, those which I do find (admittedly over a wider area) have purely quint mixtures; third-sounding ranks are limited to the Sesquialtera, Terzian, Cornet and individual ranks.

 

Pierre, no doubt you are familiar with the project, which was completed in 2000 and which involved the construction of new a large four-clavier instrument in eighteenth century middle-German style in the Thomaskirche, Leipzig. I have one or two articles on this interesting project and, whilst the creators do not claim that this is an absolutely authentic 'Bach organ' (this would be folly), nevertheless, they undertook considerable research, in order to achieve the desired result.

 

As I type, I am listening to an excellent CD recorded on this instrument, on which Ullrich Böhme (the Thomasorganist) is playing several works by JS Bach, together with a few works by other members of the Bach.

 

I enjoy this recording very much. Yes - there is plenty of colour, particularly in the quieter movements. However, the larger movements are characterised by clear, ringing choruses capped by - quint mixtures!

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I must confess that I am puzzled - whilst I have still not encountered details of mixture schemes for the actual instruments with which Bach was associated, those which I do find (admittedly over a wider area) have purely quint mixtures; third-sounding ranks are limited to the Sesquialtera, Terzian, Cornet and individual ranks.

This very much mirrors my findings (or, rather, lack of them). I, too, have been quite unable to uncover any details of the original compositions of the Mixtures in the organs at which Bach presided. At Arnstadt I think the original contract only stipulated the number of ranks and I imagine that the original Wender soundboards were disposed of long before anyone thought it important to record the make-up of the Mixture. I do not know, but it would not surprise me if the same were true of his other organs. How long did any of them survive him? In any case, this hardly matters because, as far as we know, the organs were not a deciding (or even important) factor for Bach when deciding to accept the appointments he did. Suffice it to say that while some organs of north-central Germany did have tierce mixtures, others did not (in addition to Freiburg Cathedral, one might mention Naumburg). Do we really know what Bach's tastes were in the matter of chorus mixtures? I doubt it.

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... read the specifications on Organographia, and we shall come back thereupon afterwards.

 

Pierre

 

Well, I have spent some time looking through each of the eighteen pages on Organographia. Apart from the Trost instrument (details of which are posted on two separate pages), none of the chorus mixtures are specified as to their composition - only the number of ranks.

 

I was also slightly surprised to read the quote from Monty Bennett:

 

"Since 25 years I say there is nothing more different from the baroque than

the neo-baroque thinking." (Quote from P. Lauwers)

 

"Truer words have never been spoken! One only needs to do a minor bit of

research to find stoplists of organs from the 1700s and see that multiple 8' stops

were the norm. Yes, one can find Quintadenas and Gedeckts, but generally

there were Strings and Diapasons/Principals. With a wealth of 8' color at

various dynamic levels, it's very possible to not only terrace dynamics between

manuals, but to get gradual crescendi by adding stops, before adding higher

pitches.

 

Playing an instrument with copious amounts of 8' stops, I have learned how to

get a seamless crescendo from the Flute Celeste to Tutti purely by adding and

subtracting stops and not using a swell box at all. It would be interesting

to hear how Bach actually registered his instruments and to see how creative

he was. I am sure that he would be horrified to see how the Baroque organ was

bastardized by the reform movement."

 

Monty Bennett

 

This takes no account of the fact that voicing techniqes (particularly with regard to string-toned ranks) are rather different now than in the time of Bach. It does seem from this quote that Monty Bennett equates the 'wealth of 8' color' of a Baroque organ with that which is available on a large twentieth century instrument by one of his compatriots - Earnest M. Skinner. Nothing could be further from the truth.

 

With regard to his second paragraph, if this is intended to imply his idea of playing (and registering) Bach, then I am not impressed. This is to me as wrong as the neo-Baroque idea of utilising one stop of each pitch and never mixing families of stops. (This was, incidentally, the method of registration adopted by some leading players in early recitals on the RFH organ. The result was anything but clear. Apart from being top-heavy, it was impossible for listeners to tell which voice was on top in the first place). This aside, neither would I wish to hear the works of Bach played, with a 'seamless crescendo from the Flute Céleste to Tutti.' I would submit that there is evidence that this would be impossible on a true Baroque organ - by any builder. Voicing methods (and skills) were different at that time. The idea of even playing smoothly (with regard to tone) over one octave on one stop was near to impossible.Within the compass of each stop, there would be a variety of shades of tone and attack. Reeds in particular were irregular in this respect - although it is also probably true of every stop.

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This very much mirrors my findings (or, rather, lack of them). I, too, have been quite unable to uncover any details of the original compositions of the Mixtures in the organs at which Bach presided. At Arnstadt I think the original specification only stipulated the number of ranks and I imagine that the original Wender soundboards were disposed of long before anyone thought it important to record the make-up of the Mixture. I do not know, but it would not surprise me if the same were true of his other organs. How long did any of them survive him? In any case, this hardly matters because, as far as we know, the organs were not a deciding (or even important) factor for Bach when deciding to accept the appointments he did. Suffice it to say that while some organs of north-central Germany did have tierce mixtures, others did not (in addition to Freiburg Cathedral, one might mention Naumburg). Do we really what Bach's tastes were in the matter of chorus mixtures? I doubt it.

 

Indeed, Vox.

 

In fact, there appears to be little incontrovertibe evidence with regard to this matter.

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"Since 25 years I say there is nothing more different from the baroque than the neo-baroque thinking." (Quote from P. Lauwers)

 

"Truer words have never been spoken!

This is of course not sustainable. English and American symphonic organs are far more different from the Baroque than neo-Baroque thinking ever was and those who imagine otherwise are merely deluding themselves. If Mr Bennett had done a little bit more research, he would find that evidence about how these organs were registered is not lacking - and it does not support the notion of continuous stop crescendos any more than does the instrumental music of the period. In any case I rather doubt that the use of lots of stops for extended periods was at all practical prior to the advent of hydraulic and electric blowers, Bach's insistence on adequate bellows notwithstanding.

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Here are my own words:

 

"Since 25 years I say there is nothing more different from the baroque than

the neo-baroque thinking."

(quite)

 

....I do not take responsibility for the rest, which is not mine.

 

Should I scan and try to post here some tents of german pages ?

The tierce mixtures exist in central Germany since the Renaissance.

 

Here a little sample:

 

"Das Plenum baute Wiegleb in herkömmlicher Weise über einer Quintadena als Grundregister inclusive einer repetierenden Sesquialtera. Bemerkenswert sind auch die großen Mixturen des Hauptwerks und Pedals. Diente die traditionsgemäß terzhaltige 8- bis 10-fache Hauptwerksmixtur vielleicht als Zusammenfassung der beiden gewöhnlichen Mixturen (Mixtur 6fach und Cimbel 3- oder 4fach), so ersetzt die ebenfalls terzhaltige 6-fache Pedalmixtur das bis dahin übliche Cornet 2’. Jedenfalls dienten diese Mixturen der Repräsentation in einem ganz unvergleichlichen Maße, zumal die zwei Cimbelstimmen noch hinzutreten konnten."

 

 

 

Gottfried Silbermann introduced the Quint Mixture from France, sometimes

providing a seperate tierce rank.

He build the Tierce after the french model: the "Jeu de tierce" (with Nasard and Tierce)

in seperate ranks, and the Cornet, both Flute scales.

Hildebrandt followed him.

 

BUT....Joachim Wagner, him, kept the old Tierce Mixture, then added the Cornet

and the Tierce, but transformed them in order all could go togheter in the Principal

chorus !

So you could drawn togheter: Principals (16), 8, 4, 2, Mixtur, Scharff (with 4/5'), Cornett,

and the Jeu de tierce on the second (or third) manual.

And this is what you hear in those MP3s above.

 

Here is the specification of Wagner's masterpiece, Garnisonkirche Berlin, 1725 (halas destroyed...)

 

HAUPTWERK

 

Bordun 16'

Principal 8'

Viola di Gamba 8'

Flauto traverse 8'

Rohrflöte 8'

Octave 4'

Spitzflöte 4'

Quinte 3'

Octave 2'

Mixtur 4r

Scharff 6r

Cornet 5r

Fagott 16'

Tremulant

 

OBERWERK

 

Gedact 8'

Quintatön 8'

Principal 4'

Rohrflöte 4'

Nasat 3'

Octave 2'

Flageolet 2'

Quinte 1 1/3'

Terz 1 3/5'

Cimbel 4r

Sonnezug (rotating sun)

Schwebung (Tremulant)

 

UNTERCLAVIER

 

Quintatön 16'

Principal 8'

Salcional 8' (sic, and this spelling will arrive to Loret in Belgium trough Schlimbach)

Gedact 8'

Octave 4'

Fugara 4'

Quinte 3'

Octave 2'

Waldflöte 2'

Sifflöt 1'

Scharff 5r

Cimbel 3r

Trompet 8' (divided bass & treble)

 

PEDAL

 

Principal 16'

Violon 16'

Octave 8'

Gemshorn 8'

Quinte 6'

Octave 4'

Nachthorn 4'

Quinte 3'

Mixtur 8r

Posaune 32'

Posaune 16'

Trompet 8'

Clairon 4' (in french on the knob)

 

Besides this french influence -which is also present in Bach's music- there is the italian one,

mainly carried to Germany by Eugen Casparini.

The famous organ at Leipzig university was designed by Casparini's son. It had a partial

Ripieno besides the traditional chorus.

Bach was very enthousiast with its "rare stops"... (Scheibe was the builder)

 

HAUPTWERK

 

Gross Principal 16'

Gross Quintatön 16'

Klein Principal 8'

Fleute allemande 8'

Gems-Horn 8'

Octav 4'

Quinta 3'

Quint-Nassat 3'

Octavina 2'

Wald-Flöte 2'

Grosse Mixtur 5-6r

Cornetti 3r

Zinck 2r

Schalmei 8' (en bois!)

 

HINTERWERK ("behind manual". Aha!)

 

Lieblich Gedackt 8' (wood)

Quinta-tön 8'

Fleute douce 8'

Principal 4'

Quinta decima 4'

Decima nona 3'

Holl-Flöte 2'

Viola 2'

Vigesima nona 1 1/2' (1 1/3')

Weit-Pfeiffe 1'

Mixtur 4r

Helle Cymbel 2r

Sertin 8' ( a Régal)

 

BRUSTWERK

 

Principal 8'

Viol di Gamb naturell 8'

Gross Gedackt 8'

Octav 4'

Rohr-Flöte 4'

Nassat 3'

Octav 2'

Sedecima 1'

Schweitzer-Pfeiffe 1'

Largo 1 1/3' (Larigot)

Mixtur 3r

Helle Cymbel 2r

 

PEDAL

 

Gross Principal-Bass 16' (borrowed from HPTW!)

Gross Quinta-Tön-bass 16'(HPTW)

Sub-bass 16'

Octav-bass 8' (HPTW)

Jubal-Bass 8'

Nacht-Horn-Bass 8'

Gross-Hell-Quintbass 6'

Octav Bass 4' (HPTW)

Quint-Bass 3' (HPTW)

Octav-Bass 2'

Holl-Flöten-Bass 1'

Mixtur-Bass 6r (HPTW)

Posaunen-Bass 16'

Trompeten-Bass 8'

 

When the iron curtain vanished in 1989, we were some strange guys to discover that

stuff. My teacher (the historian Jean-Pierre Félix) immediately said : "this will need

50 years to be recognized"...

 

Pierre

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Here are my own words:

 

"Since 25 years I say there is nothing more different from the baroque than

the neo-baroque thinking."

(quite)

 

....I do not take responsibility for the rest, which is not mine.

I know, but my point was that your statement is unsustainable, for the reasons I gave. There is something "more different from the baroque than the neo-baroque thinking" - the English and American symphonic organ!

 

The tierce mixtures exist in central Germany since the Renaissance.

Yes, but they are most particularly a Brabant/Dutch/North German feature, are they not? and not found to anything like the same extent in north-central Germany.

 

Gottfried Silbermann introduced the Quint Mixture from France, sometimes

providing a seperate tierce rank.

He build the Tierce after the french model: the "Jeu de tierce" (with Nasard and Tierce)

in seperate ranks, and the Cornet, both Flute scales.

Hildebrandt followed him.

This is beside the point. We are debating chorus mixtures, not solo tierce ranks and the Cornet is something else entirely.

 

Unless, I suppose, you postulate that Bach's registration was French. I have seen speculation in the past that there may have been French elements in his registrations, but there is no evidence for it.

 

I keep reading that Silbermann organs are the organs for Bach, but why? Where did this idea come from? Is it another legacy of the neo-Baroque? The argument seems to run something like the following: both men were the leaders in their respective fields, so the music of the one must perforce be a perfect match for the organs of the other. It doesn't follow, of course. For precisely this reason it was inevitable that the two men would come into close professional contact with each other, but is there any documentation that Silbermann's organs were to Bach's taste? We know he did not approve of the temperament Silbermann used.

 

In any case, as Prof Williams (again) has pointed out, there is no one organ on which all of Bach's works will sound ideal. Take the early A minor prelude and fugue, the one which closely follows the style and form of a typical Buxtehude Praeludium. Bach may have had to play it on a typical Thuringian organ, but do we seriously that this particular piece will sound better on such an organ than on the north German organs on which such pieces were usually played?

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I know, but my point was that your statement is unsustainable, for the reasons I gave. There is something "more different from the baroque than the neo-baroque thinking" - the English and American symphonic organ!

Yes, but they are most particularly a Brabant/Dutch/North German feature, are they not? and not found to anything like the same extent in north-central Germany.

This is beside the point. We are debating chorus mixtures, not solo tierce ranks and the Cornet is something else entirely.

 

Unless, I suppose, you postulate that Bach's registration was French. I have seen speculation in the past that there may have been French elements in his registrations, but there is no evidence for it.

 

I keep reading that Silbermann organs are the organs for Bach, but why? Where did this idea come from? Is it another legacy of the neo-Baroque? The argument seems to run something like the following: both men were the leaders in their respective fields, so the music of the one must perforce be a perfect match for the organs of the other. For precisely this reason it was inevitable that the two men would come into close professional contact with each other. Is there any documentation that Silbermann's organs were to Bach's taste? We know he did not approve of the temperament Silbermann used.

 

In any case, as Prof Williams (again) has pointed out, there is no one organ on which all of Bach's works will sound ideal. Take the early A minor prelude and fugue, the one which closely follows the style and form of a typical Buxtehude Praeludium. Bach may have had to play it on a typical Thuringian organ, but do we seriously that this particular piece will sound better on such an organ than on the north German organs on which such pieces were usually played?

 

I even start to wonder if Bach's written organworks are ment for (his) performance, or if they're a means of study/development: for his pupils and/or for him self, to study and write down what were to / could be improvised 'live'.

 

Kerala J. Snyder writes about this for Buxtehude's organworks: there's probably no way he could ever have played his f-sharp minor prealudium on the organ, yet he DID write it down.

 

Is there any proof Bach actually ever played his own organ works (ie. from the number we still have) in public?

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"Yes, but they are most particularly a Brabant/Dutch/North German feature, are they not? and not found to anything like the same extent in north-central Germany."

 

No; the Niehoff type had Quint Mixtures, and you will find them up to Schnitger.

Tierce Mixtures are a central & southern german feature.

 

 

"This is beside the point. We are debating chorus mixtures, not solo tierce ranks and the Cornet is something else entirely"

 

....In the french organ. The german builders very soon integrated them in the chorus, as you can hear above.

 

"Unless, I suppose, you postulate that Bach's registration was French. I have seen speculation in the past that there may have been French elements in his registrations, but there is no evidence for it."

 

Like the organs of his time and area, Bach was influenced by France and Italy.

 

"I keep reading that Silbermann organs are the organs for Bach, but why? Where did this idea come from? Is it another legacy of the neo-Baroque? The argument seems to run something like the following: both men were the leaders in their respective fields, so the music of the one must perforce be a perfect match for the organs of the other. It doesn't follow, of course. For precisely this reason it was inevitable that the two men would come into close professional contact with each other, but is there any documentation that Silbermann's organs were to Bach's taste? We know he did not approve of the temperament Silbermann used."

 

Bach had terrible discussions with Silbermann because of mean-tone tuning. For this reason, and because of a better

acclimatation of the french elements in the whole tonal structure, I find his pupil Wagner more interesting.

(Wagner tuned after Werckmeister III, while the Trost are after Neidhart)

 

Here is a sample more of a Wagner organ (Wusterhausen):

 

http://www.wagner-orgel-wusterhausen.de/hesse.mp3

 

With an unmistakable "terzy-frenchy" accent, but in german at the same time, and a tone

which already shows many things to come...

 

Pierre

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Here is a sample more of a Wagner organ (Wusterhausen):

 

http://www.wagner-orgel-wusterhausen.de/hesse.mp3

 

With an unmistakable "terzy-frenchy" accent, but in german at the same time, and a tone

which already shows many things to come...

 

Pierre

 

Having been so long acclimatised to some form of so-called equal temperament tuning, this just sounds foully out of tune, Pierre. I understand that many will argue that certain forms of unequal temperament tuning give added piquancy or heighten tension in chromatic writing. Not for me! I also cannot see the point of some keys being virtually unusable.

 

At the time of the restoration of Cavaillé-Coll's first masterpiece in the Abbey of S. Denis, the organ builders decided, somewhat to the chagrin of the Titulaire*, that they had found 'evidence' of unequal temperament tuning. Following the restoration, a commercial recording was issued (on which Pincemaille played with his customary superb musicianship and technique); unfortunately, the organ simply sounded as if it needed a thorough restoration - rather than one which had just been restored. Pincemaille had the tuning restored to equal temperament shortly after this - and it remains so to this day.

 

 

 

* Pierre Pincemaille.

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I even start to wonder if Bach's written organworks are ment for (his) performance, or if they're a means of study/development: for his pupils and/or for him self, to study and write down what were to / could be improvised 'live'.

 

Kerala J. Snyder writes about this for Buxtehude's organworks: there's probably no way he could ever have played his f-sharp minor prealudium on the organ, yet he DID write it down.

 

Is there any proof Bach actually ever played his own organ works (ie. from the number we still have) in public?

 

This is a very interesting point, Heva. I have heard others speak about this hypothesis. There are various 'accounts' of him improvising fantasias and fugues, for example, the 'great' G minor (BWV 542) - whether or not there is any truth in these stories, I do not know.

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"Yes, but they are most particularly a Brabant/Dutch/North German feature, are they not? and not found to anything like the same extent in north-central Germany."

 

No; the Niehoff type had Quint Mixtures, and you will find them up to Schnitger.

Tierce Mixtures are a central & southern german feature.

"This is beside the point. We are debating chorus mixtures, not solo tierce ranks and the Cornet is something else entirely"

 

Pierre

In his great treatise on the European organ, Dr. Peter Williams states:

 

" 'Mixture' or FOURNITURE was normally used to denote the Prinzipal-scaled basic chorus-Mixture, as distinct from the ZIMBEL, SESQUIALTERA or HORN and (later) TERZIAN and CORNET. Until the later 18th cent. in parts of Holland, south Germany, 'Hapsburg Europe' and Spain, the basic Mixture contained octaves and fifths only [my emphasis], the high ranks breaking or duplicated in different ways according to local habits. The best-ordered mixtures will form a satisfactory pleno with the 8' or 16' Prinzipal alone." *

 

 

 

* p. 281. The European Organ 1450 - 1850: Peter Williams. B. T. Batsford Ltd., London (1966).

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Well, should we play Bach and Grigny with aequal temperament ?

This would throw us back to 1950. :unsure: 100% néo-classique,

Dufourcq and Bornefeld.

 

Bach was very happy with Trost, Wagner and Hildebrandt tuning.

Aequal temperament is good for any style after 1850, but before

that we need something else; and this is said by a late-romantic

afficionado...(who happens to be fond of baroque organs, the old

nails rather than the over-restored ones).

Tierce Mixtures like the german ones are unthinkable with aequal

temperament. Combined with unequal, they give an incredible

variety of strong colors. Color, precisely where the neo completely fails.

 

"Until the later 18th "

(Quote)

.....Gabler already experimented with the flat seventeenth, besides

the tierce ranks.

In Spain a difference must be made between Catalonya (Baleares included),

which had Tierce Mixtures, and the Castille, which had not.

 

Pierre

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Bach published his Vom Himmel hoch variations with most of the canons unrealised and with one of the realised canons in open score. They could hardly be performed without recopying at least. He must surely have meant them to be primarily a demonstration of his skill when joining the Correspodirende Societät der Musicalischen Wissenschaften in 1747.

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